BMW i8 sexy hybrid makes you wait – USA TODAY
Want an exotic BMW i8 plug-in hybrid? Order now and hope it arrives some time next summer.
BMW started officially delivering the $136,650 plug-in hybrid sports car to buyers in September — but those are to people who’d been on a waiting list as long as two years. Nine of the cars were delivered in August as part of an auto event. The two-month total: 67 i8s in U.S. buyers’ hands.
There are enough people still on waiting lists, and production of the i8 takes so long, that new requests placed now won’t arrive for perhaps nine months.
Under its dent-resistant plastic skin, the i8 is largely carbon fiber, a light and expensive material used on everything from race cars to fishing rods.The car is assembled in Leipzig, Germany, using carbon fiber made at a BMW plant in Moses Lake, Wash., that’s run by non-polluting hydroelectric power.
The two-continent travels of the Moses Lake carbon fiber, plus the additional time it takes to mold the material into the right shapes and bond it with adhesive, and the other labor intensive work that goes into the i8 at Leipzig, mean the the cars are rolling out slowly, in small numbers.
The i8 is unique. The electric motor is mounted in front and drives only the front wheels, meaning that, when the car’s in electric mode it’s the only front-wheel drive BMW sold the U.S.
A 1.5-liter, three-cylinder, turbocharged gasoline engine behind the passenger compartment drives only the rear wheels, and is rated 228 horsepower. It’s a very beefed up version of the 134-hp, 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo in the 2014 Mini Cooper. BMW owns Mini.
There’s no mechanical connection between the electric and gasoline powerplants. They work independently and are coordinated by software. In addition to driving the car solo, the electric motor is used as a power boost for the gasoline engine when the driver accelerates hard.
The i8 joins the smaller, less-sporty electric-only i3, on sale since late spring, as BMW’s two unique electrified vehicles that are not converted versions of its normal gasoline cars, such as the 3-series and 5-series hybrid sedans.
BMW has sold 3,104 i3s in the U.S. this year through September, according to Autodata.